Saturday, May 26, 2007

"So what experiences prepare someone to be an effective trainer?"

This was the question (an excellent one BTW) from C.Sheridan in response to my "Base of Knowledge" post below. What experiences/qualifications prepare someone to be an effective trainer? Let's dive into that for a bit...

For me - I feel that my Bachelors degree in Sportsmedicine from High Point University in North Carolina and my years as an Athletic Trainer were primarily responsible for my base of knowledge. It gave me a strong foundation in anatomy, physiology, evaluation and rehabilitation of athletic injuries, and teaching and "coaching" experience. Not a bad way to start out.
Next on the education list is a Master's of Science in Rehabilitative Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania while I was working as a graduate assistant Athletic Trainer. Now I will let you all know that the Rehabilitative Science degree is in Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation - not physical rehabilitation. What does a drug and alcohol rehab degree have to do with being a personal trainer? Glad you asked - It provided me with a depth of knowledge in human behavior patterns and modification of those patterns. And accomplishing one's goals and actually implementing changes in behavior are intimately connected.

That is the academic stuff - but what is not listed is all of my "non-academic" research study and experimentation. I started reading and experimenting with training myself in junior high and has taken many forms...I have been fat (40" waist), fit, strong, weak (deconditioned), a runner, a bodyweight exercise guy, a weightlifter, a kettlebell guy, a HIT Jedi, a functional training guy, and I have been injured (surgeries etc...) and I have rehabbed myself...

During these years of personal experimentation I have read and studied voraciously - seeking to understand any and all of the techniques I was using on myself and others - a complete list would be too long and boring to go into but needless to say it includes, Pavel, Siff, Verkoshansky, Zatsiorsky, Mentzer, Cosgrove, Cressey, Santana, Cook, McGill and many, many more....

What an academic listing does not cover as well is experience - and I have had a good bit of that.
Beginning as an athletic trainer working with a wide variety of athletes and continuing into my first "fitness" position of running a hospital wellness program. While running this hospital wellness program I worked with people of all conditions - stroke, PParkinson's, joint replacements, elderly, athlete, regular Joe and Jane, heart conditions, cardiac rehab, orthopedic issues of all types, and a few things I am forgetting but you get the idea...

What an academic listing also does not cover is who you have surrounded yourself with and who you can learn from...which is an area where I am very fortunate. Over the years I have had the fortune of meeting, learning from and developing friendships with some of the best in the business. I will not list names and name drop but I have been very fortunate in this area and it is a VERY important area. Your "circle of influence" is a huge part of your personal development due to the honest and professional feedback you can receive that your other friends and family cannot provide you.

So what experiences prepare you to be an effective trainer?
A combination of academic learning, personal experimentation, personal development/research (continuous learning), professional research and experience, and networking/"circle of influence" are all "required".
And this doesn't touch on the "x" factors of personality and intuition.

Does it have to be academic - No - I know people without an ounce of "book smarts" that I would trust to train my family. And I know people with reams of book time that I would not trust to train my dog (if I had one). This is where the ability to apply your knowledge makes all the difference and the x-factors of personality and intuition come into play.

Does it have to be a "certification"? NO - certifications are an indicator - not a guarantee. A certification is the minimum level of knowledge necessary to hold the cert. So it depends on where that minimum level has been set - for the RKC it is set high - for some multiple choice study at home certs - it is set low - it just depends on the group providing the cert.

So the take home advice - Study, read, research, experiment and network - rinse and repeat....

And that is a VERY long winded explanation of what experiences and qualifications prepare someone to be an effective trainer.


Mark Reifkind said...

great post and great advice. you have to really "live" it to be a great trainer. if you dont have the passion for the knowledge and the experiences in the trenches you are in the wrong profession, imo.
plus you have to learn to teach. As we both know, being a great demonstrator is NOT enough to be a solid teacher. SO one needs to be able to teach others as well as themselves.
and its a never ending process. the more you know the more you realize you have so much more to learn.

great post bro, and your incredible background in a variety of academic and "real deal" trenches applications is the key. Cant have one without the other.

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Rif - it isn't just one thing as we know and those x-factors of intuition and personality are HUGE! I feel very fortunate to have the background and resources that I do (your was one of those names I didn't want to "drop".

Christine said...

Nice post, a good way to articulate it.

Franz Snideman said...

this post rocks Brett! Like Rif says, you cannot take someone somewhere you have never been. You must walk the walk and be a real living example of what health and fitness looks like and is!

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Franz and Christine

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